Teesside patients with long term lung conditions can now benefit from a specialist hydrotherapy rehabilitation programme – believed to be one of the first in the UK.
The water-based sessions at The James Cook University Hospital and Redcar Primary Care Hospital are designed for respiratory patients with conditions such as COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) who require rehabilitation but struggle with gym-based exercises because of joint problems.
Following a successful pilot scheme at Redcar, which achieved a 100% patient satisfaction and attendance rate, the unique sessions are now being offered at the hydrotherapy pools in both hospitals on a weekly basis.
Rebecca Shea, lead physiotherapist for the pulmonary rehabilitation service said: “This has been set up predominantly for respiratory patients with joint problems who may struggle to use gym equipment such as exercise bikes, steps and treadmills, but also for patients who have completed a land-based programme and would like to try a course in the water.
“The aim is that patients can then go on to join local gyms and swimming pools, with the confidence to continue exercising independently.
“Six patients attended the pilot programme over the winter – a time when patients with long term lung conditions generally struggle – and not a single one missed a session, they really got a lot out of it!
“We are unaware of any other hospital in the country offering pulmonary rehabilitation in water, so this is a very exciting development for our patients.”
One of the first patients to sign up was Elizabeth Parnell of Middlesbrough, she said: “I find it much easier to do the exercises in the water. In the gym I was more breathless and had to rest in between each exercise, but this is excellent. I have thoroughly enjoyed it.”
Rebecca added: “We are now urging GPs to continue to refer their patients who have COPD (and other respiratory conditions), including those who they think may struggle with gym-based pulmonary rehabilitation, so they can then be assessed to see if they are medically suitable to attend the hydrotherapy sessions.”
Funding for the specialist exercise classes has been made available by South Tees Clinical Commissioning Group as part of the IMProVE (Integrated Management and Proactive Care for the Vulnerable and Elderly) programme which aims to increase respiratory care in the community and reduce hospital admissions.
Local GP and chair of South Tees Clinical Commissioning Group, Dr Janet Walker said: “I have already seen my patients benefit from the COPD rehab programme. It is great that patients with joint problems, who would have struggled with the exercise programme, will now be able to improve their respiratory problems through hydrotherapy.”